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A note for my Mom who would be 99 today


Mom died in June of 2004.  What a life she lived!  She was born in Kalamazoo in a house on the same street she would live on for most of her life.  It was the same street where she raised all nine of her children.  As a little girl she spent time at her maternal grandfather’s farm in Goblesville, Michigan.  He was a veteran from the Spanish American War, John Jones.  She would also visit her grandmother Alice Scruggs who lived in Evanston.  She fell in love with Dad and they eloped to be married in Indiana when she was twenty.  Her mother did not want her to marry Dad because he was darker (Lord have mercy) and his family came from Mississippi.  Love, of course, shatters stereotypes, superstitions and walls.  For the next twenty one years she gave birth to nine children- six girls and three boys.  

It is very difficult to articulate or explain how it happened, but the nine of us were raised in a household where the essence of love abounded.  While we were poor, we didn’t know it because of at least three things; 1) Laughter created a spirit of ease even in light of challenging circumstances.  It is not a stretch to say that no matter what was going on in the world or in our individual lives (racism, civil rights, the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, protests against the war, poverty) we found something to laugh about every-single-day.  2) The presence of family was embedded in our souls.  We talked around the dinner table.  We shared the ups and downs of our lives with one other.  We admonished each other, fussed with each other, loved each other, defended each other, argued with each other and sometimes cussed at each other.  But it was all done under the umbrella of family.  3) The power of faith was evident.  When I was very young, my parents dropped us off at church.  In retrospect I assume it was the rare time when they actually had an opportunity to be with each other.  Eleven of us in a three bedroom home meant privacy was at a minimum.  But we never doubted their faith in God.  Both of them became deeply active in church once again, by the time I was a teenager.   

We all grew up, making our transitions from childhood to teens and from teens to young adulthood.  What was the constant?  Mom (and Dad).  She was ever present.  She talked to the teachers (and principals on occasion).  She gave advice.  She listened.  She prayed.  This morning I pulled out an old tape (cassette) of Mom and Dad talking about their own lineage.  It has been any number of years since I heard either of their voices (Dad died in 1991).  Emotions welled within as their laughter, love for family and faith all flowed through the speakers, enveloping me in a cocoon of familiarity.  I am what I am, who I am (at least any good in me) because of my Momma.  Happy Birthday in the Beloved Community above.  I hope your watching Daddy playing baseball in Salvation Stadium on the corner of Hallelujah and Glory Boulevards.  And when the game is over, go see Nat King Cole and you all do a little dancing to his “Unforgettable.”  Yes indeed.  Heaven is real.

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